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COUNTRY’S TOP-EARNING STARS

COUNTRY’S 10 TOP-EARNING STARS

Forbes.com considered concert box office receipts, merchandise revenue, album sales, publishing royalties and income from endorsement or licensing deals. The figures represent an estimate of gross earnings from June 2009 to June 2010.

Kenny Chesney
Estimated earnings: $50 million
2008-2009 Rank: 1
2008-2009 earnings: $65 million
Prominent sponsorships with companies like Corona and MasterCard keep tour costs down, making the tours even more profitable.

Toby Keith
Estimated earnings: $48 million
2008-2009 Rank: 3
2008-2009 Earnings: $52 million
How serious is Keith about making money? His manager says, “You’d get a severe head injury dropping a nickel around him.”

Taylor Swift (tie)
Estimated earnings: $45 million
2008-2009 Rank: 4
2008-2009 earnings: $18 million
Fans downloaded 12 million tracks from iTunes and Amazon. Large endorsement deals with Sony and CoverGirl helped her bottom line, too.

Rascal Flatts (tie)
Estimated earnings: $45 million
2008-2009 Rank: 2
2008-2009 Earnings: $60 million
With fewer endorsement and licensing deals than other major country stars, Rascal Flatts makes the majority of its income from the road and from royalties.

Tim McGraw
Estimated earnings: $30 million
2008-2009 Rank: 5
2008-2009 Earnings: $23 million
Tim, who was the most-played artist on the radio in the 2000s, also branched out this year with a supporting role in the hit movie The Blind Side.

Keith Urban
Estimated earnings: $28 million
2008-2009 Rank: N/A
2008-2009 Earnings: $8 million
He doubled the number of tour dates he played between 2008 and 2009. The result was a big bump in annual earnings.

George Strait
Estimated earnings: $25 million
2008-2009 Rank: N/A
2008-2009 Earnings: N/A
He’s sold 41 million records since 1991 and was the third most-played artist on the radio in the 2000s.

Brad Paisley
Estimated earnings: $22 million
2008-2009 Rank: 7
2008-2009 Earnings: $15 million
He hit the road in 2009 in support of his latest album, American Saturday Night, playing 76 tour dates that grossed him nearly $500,000 a night.

Alan Jackson
Estimated earnings: $15 million
2008-2009 Rank: 10
2008-2009 Earnings: $12 million
With no major endorsement deals, Alan draws a large portion of his annual earnings from his royalties on album sales and the music played on country radio stations.

Carrie Underwood
Estimated earnings: $13 million
2008-2009 Rank: 8
2008-2009 Earnings: $14 million
Most of her income came from playing 51 dates last year, with an average gross of $400,000 a night.